If you’re buying an older home, you may find that some janky wiring needs a look-see. So, how do you go about hiring a professional, experienced electrician? These steps will ensure that the job gets done right.
The Importance of Expertise
Safety is paramount when it comes to electricity. Modifying residential electrical wiring is complicated, and mistakes can be fatal; faulty installations or amateur shortcuts can lead to dangerous fires or electrocution. Before allowing anyone to make major changes to your home’s electrical wiring, be certain that the individual is properly licensed and certified.
There are different types of electrical technicians, and each can perform certain types of work under specific circumstances. Many types of electrical work are only performed by a journeyman or a master electrician. Understanding the difference between the two can help steer you toward the best candidate.
Qualifications of a Journeyman
Specific licensing requirements vary by locality, but most states have similar programs, and some have interstate reciprocity agreements. In most states, apprentices must obtain a journeyman’s license to work unsupervised. An aspiring journeyman must first complete a period of apprenticeship with a licensed journeyman under the supervision of a master electrician. Typically, the journeyman must complete about 8,000 hours of supervised training over a four-year period and pass a comprehensive examination to obtain a license.
In general, journeymen are qualified to perform all types of basic repairs, installations, maintenance jobs and other electrical tasks. This includes commercial and residential electrical wiring repair, appliance installation, security and lighting installation and energy-efficient upgrades. They can do this without supervision, but their work may be subject to a supervisor’s approval.
Journeymen are not permitted to design electrical systems except within certain government-defined limits, and they cannot obtain electrical permits. In many states, journeymen are only allowed to work under an electrical contractor and cannot obtain projects independently. They may assist in training, but they do not serve in supervisory roles.
Checking with local building authorities, conducting online research and asking friends and neighbors can be helpful when searching for information about any company or tradesman.
Masters of the Electric Trade
To become a master electrician, the journeyman must complete an additional two years of training under direct supervision and pass a required written test. Some states require seven years of experience or a degree in electrical engineering before administration of the final exam. Once licensed, these masters of the trade can perform all electrical work, including residential and commercial system design. They can also supervise journeymen and apprentices, serve as crew leaders and advance in the industry to become electrical contractors. Unlike journeymen, they are required to maintain insurance coverage as dictated by local regulations.
Homebuilders or business owners who need to obtain electrical permits and have extensive design or construction work completed would probably benefit more by hiring this type of highly skilled expert. While a journeyman can skillfully perform most work on a home’s electrical wiring, the qualifications, advanced education and industry respect for master tradesmen ensure top-quality work for larger-scale projects.
Helpful Hiring Tips
The cost of hiring a professional is a legitimate concern when working with a tight budget. To save money, some people may be tempted to make minor repairs themselves or hire a handyman who is not appropriately trained. While it may cost less upfront, this strategy can eventually result in repair costs that are higher than the price of the original work. Bundling several smaller projects together can save money, especially when flat-rate travel fees are charged. The level of service should match the project. It is not necessary to hire specialists for minor repairs.
Checking with local building authorities, conducting online research and asking friends and neighbors can be helpful when searching for information about any company or tradesman. A few phone calls and questions can lead to verification of licensing, professional references, customer complaint records and community endorsements. A little homework is all it takes to ensure that electrical repairs and projects are trusted to the most qualified and skilled professionals, and a safer home is well worth the investment of time and money.